Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breakfast ideas that are "peachy green"

Everyone's heard the advice that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Lucky for me, I happen to love breakfast! Yet going gluten free has made it a little less exciting since I can't enjoy all of the yummy breakfast foods I used to, especially when we go out for brunch.

To remedy this, I've started getting a little more creative in the kitchen to make breakfast both substantial and delicious. Here are three of my recipes for you to try!

Zucchini Muffins (Gluten-free) 
These could easily be made vegan too, if you use egg substitute.

1 large grated zucchini, excess water squeezed out
1 banana (ripe), mashed
1/2 cup almond milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups oats (gluten free)

Optional: Add in 3 Tbsp. brown sugar

  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl. 
  2. Spray muffin tin, and fill cups 2/3rds of the way full.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges start to brown and muffins are firm to the touch.
These muffins are not too sweet, so you can add in brown sugar if you'd like. I did not add the sugar, and instead enjoy the muffins topped with peanut butter or coconut oil.

Peanut Buttery Overnight Oats
I enjoy these cold during the summer months, and I heat them in the microwave during the winter months. Take your pick!
1/3 cup oats (gluten free)
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp. of almond milk
1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 mashed banana
1 Tbsp sunflower seed butter or peanut butter
Coconut flakes (optional)

  1. Mix everything together in a container, except for the coconut flakes.
  2. Let sit in sealed container in refrigerator overnight. 
  3. In the morning, stir and add shredded coconut to the top if desired. 
Peachy Green Smoothie
Get the pun?! 
Before and after
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 peach, chopped
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 cup milk
Dash of cinnamon

Preparation: Blend everything together and enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Daily Labyrinths

Growing up, the summer days seemed to linger longer. My best friend Alex and I would spend weeks out of the summer at my grandmother's beach house for "Camp Nana," and we would often pause from collecting shells, biking to ice cream, and swimming in the sea to walk the labyrinth at the local church.

Somehow in the midst of soaking in the sun, we appreciated the stillness and inner solitude that walking the labyrinth welcomed.

Despite how the word "labyrinth" is often used, it actually is not designed as a maze, which has choices and complex paths. Instead a labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path that leads to the center. It is designed to be meditative not challenging.

Revisiting the labyrinth I used to walk during John's and my trip to St. Pete

Alex and I would often walk the labyrinth before or after watching the sunset over the Gulf. I'd contemplate the day and pray as I walked its course.

Blast from the past:
Alex and I visiting Aruba with my family the summer before starting high school
It amazes me that as children we appreciated the time for reflection even when there were dozens of other beach activities that could have taken our attention. How much more should I be craving this time as an adult?

A couple weekends ago, when John and I visited his parents in North Carolina, I had a similar experience to walking a labyrinth during our long hikes. Hiking always slows down time and helps me think, and there's nothing like looking out miles beyond you when you reach the mountaintop.

Hiking in Tullulah Gorge, GA and Cashiers, NC

This got me thinking to how I could recreate this experience in daily life. How can I intentionally spend time reenergizing my soul?

My challenge today is to pause and consider "labyrinths" in your life that allow space for solitude and meditation.

Dinner with the Shack's in NC

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to keep a calendar when you're married

The tradition is to save the top of your wedding cake in the freezer and then celebrate your one-year with a (hopefully un-freezer burnt) slice. Well... almost two years later, John and I finally cut into the cake at the beach over the 4th of July. The top of our cake has been taking up a lot of space in my parents' freezer, so I think they were more than ready for us to finally finish it off!

It looked less than promising...

...especially after knowing what it looked like on our wedding day.

We were nervous to give it a try, but it was surprisingly still tasty!

Not quite as elegant as at our wedding!

Thankfully, as John said: Our marriage has held up a lot better than the cake did!

Recently, one of the things that we've been doing to keep our marriage strong is changing the way that we keep our calendar.

Although schedules are less than romantic, keeping our calendar in a new way has allowed us to keep our marriage adventurous. We are both "J" on Myers-Briggs (i.e. like to plan and schedule a lot), which meant that when we were first married we were setting plans over a month in advance.

Planning so far ahead, however, prevented us from accepting a lot of invitations and hanging out with friends on a whim.

But what really got our attention is when John was sick the first few months of this year. His illness prevented us from keeping a lot of our plans, so when he was well, we found our weeks slammed with one rescheduled commitment after another. This left not a whole lot of downtime or time for date nights.

And as someone who needs a little time alone in order to recharge, I was exhausted.

So we regrouped and came up with a way we could keep our calendar that still allowed us to plan ahead while protecting our down time. Here's our method:

  • At the beginning of each month, we sync up our calendars to make sure we're both aware of big events or other happenings that we are scheduled to attend that month (either together or separately).
  • Then we go week by week and schedule our nights according to three categories: (1) Night of rest (i.e. time alone together or a date night), (2) Outreach night (time with our neighbors, church community group, new people we want to reach out to, etc.), and (3) Friend night (time with our friends)
  • We don't have to set who we'll invite over or what we want to plan, we just ensure that each week has at least each of those categories per week. 
  • Then when someone invites us somewhere or we want to have someone over for dinner, we can use our scheduled night for that category.
  • We're also not rigid about it, so as long as we have one of those each category per week, we can switch nights around accordingly.

This practice has been helpful for us, so I thought I'd share it in case others could benefit from how to schedule yet still be flexible. Let me know if you have questions and happy planning!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Shindigs

I haven't updated BeEmbraced for a while because the long summer days always seems to fill up quickly! Here are some of the highlights from the past couple of weeks:

Baby Shower Fun
I joined in with some of my friends to throw my friend Annie and her husband Eric a baby shower! The weather was gorgeous and perfect for the outside BaBy-Q!

The hostesses with the Mama-to-be: Meredith, me, Annie, Kelley, and Jill 

Since I'm not the crafty one, I stuck to helping make some of the food and set-up/clean-up.

The entrance to the backyard BaBy-Q

John and I also read Annie and Eric some questions about parenting, and they had to guess which one of them it applied to - without looking at each other's answer! For instance, "Who's most likely to cry on her first day of preschool?" or "Who's most likely to give her second helpings of dessert?"

John and I laughing at the answers!

Surprise Half Birthday
Yes, you read that right! John surprised me for my half birthday since it's always hard for us to celebrate on the real date of December 28th. A bunch of our friends came over for game night, but little did I know that my friends Becca and Anna had brought over gluten/dairy free desserts for everyone in order to celebrate me! As an added bonus, I beat John in a "sudden death" match to lead the girls' team to victory during our game night :)

Some of the girls at game night!
Beach Visit #1
On our way to spend the week of July 4th with my parents at the beach, we made a well worth it detour to visit my Nana in St. Pete. I spent a lot of summers at her house in Pass-a-Grille, and I was so excited to share some old memories with John! Nana and I cooked a meal together, and then we all headed down to enjoy the sunset.

Nana and I enjoying the sunset

The next day, John and I biked all around the island, stopping at all of the places I used to go to growing up. We spent some time at the beach before heading to lunch with Nana at the Don CeSar and stopping by Uncle Andy's for ice cream afterward!

John's monster ice cream cone
Beach Visit #2 
From there we headed across Florida's coast to Vero Beach, where we spent the week with my family enjoying the surf and sand. Lots of reading, relaxing, great food, and game nights! For the 4th, John put on a big firework display (it's become a yearly tradition) that we all enjoyed!

Stay tuned for more updates from this summer...